As if being selected to the Central Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame wasn't a big enough honor, Grove City resident Dale Leach got another thrill when he found out who had nominated him.

"I didn't know until the ceremony that my four children were the ones who nominated me for the award," he said. "That made it even more special to me, to realize my kids think that much of me."

The 85-year-old was among 13 older adults from a nine-county area who were named to the hall of fame during the 43rd annual recognition held May 16 and hosted by the Central Ohio Area Agency of Aging.

"The Hall of Fame honors residents who are 60 and over who lead meaningful lives and for the work they do in their community that inspires, enriches and improves the lives of others in their community," said Steven Centofani, COAAA communications manager.

One of the messages the hall of fame promotes is that senior citizens continue to contribute to society even after so-called retirement, he said.

"Our inductees are being recognized for a lifetime of achievement, but especially for their activities after the age of 60," Centofani said.

Leach retired from a career with Columbus Southern & Power and AEP, but as noted, several of his contributions to the community were still ahead.

In nominating their father, Leach's children -- Pam, Judy, Jeffri and Greg -- noted his passion for the Kiwanis Club.

Leach has been an active Kiwanis member for 50 years with perfect attendance for 40 of those years.

"I decided to join Kiwanis because they do things to help children," he said. "That's important to me. We do a lot of things in the Grove City Kiwanis to help children learn and to develop them into the adults that will lead us in the future."

Leach led the Grove City club's effort that raised more than $18,000 for the Kiwanis' "Eliminate Program." The program has eliminated tetanus from affecting more than 10,000 mothers and babies worldwide.

Another important part of his commitment to Kiwanis is his service as an adviser to the Key Club program at Central Crossing High School.

Kiwanis sponsors Key Clubs at each South-Western City School District high school.

"It's a really important program because it helps teach the students the importance of being leaders by serving others," Leach said. "That's what I always tried to teach my own children as they were growing up -- that's it's important to do your part to make your community a better place to live."

Last year marked the first time in many years that Leach did not attend the Kiwanis International Convention.

"I had some health issues that kept me from going. I was sorry I couldn't go," he said. "Traveling to the convention each year has allowed me to see places all over the world. It's being part of something you're proud of."

Over the years, Leach has participated in other service projects including Meals on Wheels, volunteering at Doctor's Hospital and the Ronald McDonald House, assisting at the Grove City Food Pantry and Grove City Pancake Day and participating in Make a Difference Day.

"I've always looked for causes that will help our young people," Leach said. "That's what's important to me."

More information about COAAA and its Senior Citizens Hall of Fame is available at coaaa.org.

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